Mental Health Benefits
The physiological and health benefits of exercise have been well known by researchers, educators, and the public for many years. Less well known, however, are the psychological—cognitive and emotional—benefits of exercise. Psychological outcomes from engaging in exercise have been studied in both acute (i.e., a single exercise bout) and chronic forms (i.e., over a period of weeks and months). It is equally important to acknowledge all exercise benefits—short-term and long-term—because physical activity is a valid and reliable form of treatment to enhance mental health. Exercise is known to effectively manage stress, anxiety, depression, and other undesirable mood states. However, these benefits accrue after several weeks and months (Berger et al., 2002; Buckworth & Dishman, 2002).
This chapter will provide a brief overview of the literature on how personality traits may predict exercise participation, and the effects of exercise on self-esteem, stress, acute and chronic anxiety, and mood state—something the MHP needs to know in prescribing exercise to clients.
While an overview of personality theory goes well beyond the scope of this chapter, it is suffice to say that the link between exercise